×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Album Review: Miley Cyrus’ ‘Younger Now’

There’s something slightly familiar about Miley Cyrus’ back-to-roots move, which has her looking and sounding softer, moth-balling the outrageous outfits, retracting that roaming tongue and trading club beats for an acoustic guitar. And then you realize what it is: This reinvention of a reinvention feels like a remake of “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” in which fictional Miley gets shipped off to a farm in Tennessee, where she grapples with an identity crisis over whether to keep or ditch the blond wig. In real life, Cyrus only had to go as far as “Malibu” — the setting of her recent top 10 single — to have an epiphany about trading in her trademark provocations for something more pastoral.

Far be it from us, usually, to knock a late-dawning authenticity embrace. But  “Younger Now,” her sixth album under her own name, is pleasantly meh enough to inspire waves of unexpected nostalgia for twerk-era Miley. It is, by design, the very opposite of a wrecking ball, meant to lull you into a place of arcadian peace, with a few stops for minor romantic paranoia along the way. Oren Yoel, her collaborator for the entire album, has done a yeoman’s job of putting an interesting sonic spin on Cyrus’ sudden urge to get all strummy and finger-picky on us. But she’s too clumsy a lyricist (“Like the grass I’ve watched us grow / I’ve heard you’ll reap only what you’ll sow”) for neo-folk even remotely to be a strong suit.

Cyrus means to let us know exactly where she stands at this mindful crossroads. The album’s mea culpa-ish opening lines — “Feels like I woke up / Like all this time I’ve been asleep” — are followed by an addendum about not regretting her naughtier previous persona. All duly, and dully, noted. It’s not strictly about solipsism: In the closing ballad, “Inspired,” she embraces broader concerns about the future of the planet, although her gentle worrying about fear, hate and bee genocide makes us wish Yoel would jump in with some crass dance beats and bash all this mash into “Bangerz.”

Occasionally, Cyrus gets in touch with her commercial instincts — which, in her case, are her better ones. The best track, “Thinkin’,” starts off with a Sheryl Crow-style rhythm guitar riff before moving into playful, hip-hop-style phrasing. It’s irresistible enough to make you wonder why it wasn’t released as one of the album’s first two singles, except that “Malibu” and the underperforming title track better fit her narrative of self-rediscovery.

Another highlight (of sorts) is a twangy children’s song, “Rainbowland,” which, with the help of duet partner Dolly Parton, is both terrible and adorable. Most of the other tracks are blandly bucolic. May her current blue-jeans phase continue to bring her inner peace — 
and may she not have burned all the 
hot pants.

More Music

  • Firesign Theatre David Ossman Peter Bergman

    Phil Proctor Recalls Firesign Flared From Sunset Strip Riots

    When the Firesign Theatre’s first comedy album, “Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,” was released in 1968, Rolling Stone rated the Los Angeles-based sketch comedy foursome as “the funniest team in America today.” With two of the team’s principals, Peter Bergman and Phil Austin, deceased, the creative mantle of the Grammy-nominated group’s freewheeling [...]

  • Allan Bregman Dead Obit

    Booking Agent Allan Bregman Dies at 92

    Allan Bregman, a booking agent and talent manager who represented the likes of the King family, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, died Sept. 25 in La Quinta, Calif. He was 92. Bregman grew up in the neighboring town of Lorain before graduating from Ohio State University and joining the Merchant Marines in 1944. [...]

  • Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Named Most-Streamed Song

    Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Named Most-Streamed Song From 20th Century

    Universal Music Group today announced that “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the iconic single by British rock legends Queen, officially became the world’s most-streamed song from the 20th Century, as well as the most-streamed Classic Rock song of all time. Today (Dec. 10), the original song and official video for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” taken from the group’s 1975 album [...]

  • Sony/ATV Scandinavia Managing Director & SVP

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing Extends Deal With Hitmaker Noonie Bao

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing has extended its worldwide deal with Swedish songwriter Noonie Bao, whose hits include “Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara and “Never Be The Same” by Camila Cabello. The Los Angeles-based Bao currently is credited on Rita Ora’s UK smash “Let You Love Me.” The company first signed Bao 11 years ago. Said Sony/ATV UK [...]

  • Lindsey Buckingham performs at The Wilbur

    Lindsey Buckingham Says Fleetwood Mac Suit Is Settled, Hopes Bandmates See the Light

    Lindsey Buckingham has peacefully gone his own way — with a stop at the bank, presumably — now that he and the four other longtime members of Fleetwood Mac have reached an out-of-court settlement about his dismissal from the group. The agreement was reached “only a couple of weeks” ago, Buckingham said in an interview [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content